conspiracy theories

14 Apr 2020

Conspiracy theories due to misinformation about COVID-19

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While the coronavirus pandemic isolated families and friends inside their homes, it increased online access to poor information. We are talking about both bad sciences related to how to prevent the virus and debunked rumors about cities being put on lockdown. Because of the Internet, people now have access to many conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19

Indeed, misinformation during a public health emergency poses a risk to those who are or might become victims. Thus, before taking any action, it is important that you remember something important. Most people have no intention of sharing bad information. This is a fact. However, you can not trust everybody either. During these difficult times, it is important to acquire the ability to select your sources of information.

conspiracy theories
Be aware of some conspiracy theories about COVID-19. (Source: Terça Livre)

Famous conspiracy theories about COVID-19

Bill Gates’ conspiracy

Bill Gates presented a simulation suggesting that a flu similar to the 1918 flu pandemic could kill 50 million people within six months. He added that the global public health community was unequipped to deal with the fallout of such an event.

If you are a rational individual, you know that Gates was arguing for better preparedness in fighting pandemics. He was not gleefully anticipating a potential future one. Yet, on social media, conspiracy theorists cited the article as if he was. As a billionaire ominously predicting a global catastrophe, people said that he did it for no reason other than personal profit.

Coronavirus vaccine

A viral Facebook post contains a screengrab of a patent that would display the coronavirus vaccine. It suggests that the government introduced the virus. However, they did so that pharmaceutical companies could profit off the vaccine. Although reports of companies indicate that they are receiving funding to developing a vaccine for n-CoV, currently there are no vaccines available for any coronaviruses. This is one among many conspiracy theories based on misinformation.

The belief that the virus is no worse than the common cold

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COVID-19 is not a common cold. We can affirm that for numerous reasons. Aside from having completely different symptoms (fever, cough, etc.), it also has a mortality rate of above 2 percent. The common cold does not.  

Coronavirus is a bioweapon that the Chinese government (or the CIA) engineered to wage war on America (or China).

Due to the recent history of strained diplomatic relations between China and America, some would speculate that coronavirus was covertly engineered in a lab. Thus, it would be possible to use it in a war. This would be part of an extended campaign to weaken the opposing country. However, there’s no evidence in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered.

Conspiracy theories can be harmful to society because can they influence people’s health choices. Besides, they might help to increase hostility and violence towards those who are “conspiring”. Thus, it is important to combat the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus. Governments should also act to stop misinformation and conspiracy theories relating to the virus. If they get out of hand, we will end up getting severe consequences.

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